Gay Rabbit God Temple
All religions address both spiritual needs and issues of here and now. New deities and even new religions often emerge to address needs or during times of social change. The founding of the Gay Rabbit God Temple in Taipei is one such example.
About five years ago (2005), a Taoist priest made spiritual contact with the Rabbit God and decided that should five same sex couples approach the temple for prayers or spiritual help, he will establish a temple dedicated to the Rabbit God.
Although at that time, they did not have specific programs for gay couples, five couples did indeed turn up. The priest took this as a sign and officially established the Rabbit Temple.
History of the Rabbit God
The Rabbit God Temple worships the Rabbit Deity who lived in Qing dynasty China as Hu Tianbao, 胡天保. He was attracted to an imperial inspector and was beaten to death after his infatuation was exposed. Officials of the Hades empathized with his unrequited love and appointed him as the deity overseeing homosexual relationships. As rabbits are symbols of Chinese homoeroticism, he became known as the Rabbit God, 兔儿神.
Since its opening, the temple has attracted many same sex couples from Taiwan and other parts of the world as well as singles who in search of their future partner. On the side wall of the temple is a notice board for visitors to leave a message for the Rabbit God. It might be a request for help in their search for love or a thank you note.
Contextualizing the Gay Rabbit God Temple
The emergence of the Gay Rabbit God Temple should be understood against two related trends in Taiwan.
With regards to social attitudes on homosexual issues, Taiwan is one of the most progressive societies in Asia and in the Chinese world. In fact, the 2003 Taiwan Pride was the first gay pride parade in any Chinese majority society. In the 2005 Taiwan Pride, the Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou, 馬英九, participated in the opening ceremony and even declared that "being gay is a natural state that cannot be repressed".
If you wonder about the need to state the obvious, a look around Asia will provide an answer.
In 2007, the Singapore Parliament debated the repeal of section 377A of the Penal Code that criminalizes sex between men. A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Thio Li-ann, a law professor in the National University of Singapore (NUS), made a notorious speech in support of section 377A.
In a long speech, she argued, in the Singapore Parliament, that: “You cannot make a human wrong a human right.”, “There are no ex-Blacks but there are ex-gays.” and her infamous: “Anal sex is..............like shoving a straw up your nose to drink.”
In the end, Section 377A was not repealed. Same sex activities between consenting adults, even lovers, continue to be a criminal offence in Singapore.
Secondly, Taiwan has the culture of Yue Lao worship. Yue Lao,月老, or Old Man under the moon is a Chinese deity in charged of love affairs. In many Taiwan temples, there is a chamber for his worship and couples or singles in search of love leave messages there. The Rabbit God is thus the counterpart of Yue Lao and in charged of homosexual relationships.
Towards an inclusive future
Moving beyond Taiwan, a deity in charged of gay relationships is refreshing news. In many countries, religious condemnation and criminal persecution of the homosexuals is very common.
In a landscape of bigotry and ignorance, the Rabbit God arises as one who not only does not condemn the gay individuals but assists in their search for love. That explains the international interest in the Gay Rabbit Temple.
Gay Rabbit Temple
Taipei Yonghe City, Yonghe Road Section 1, Alley 37, No 12
or copy the address on the right
Ritual items in the Gay Rabbit Temple
Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou, 馬英九
at the Taipei Pride 2005.
Photo credit: Fridae
Taipei Pride 2005
Photo credit: Fridae
Noticeboard with messages from devotees
The gay rabbit temple is in an alley opposite this building
The alley leading to the temple.
the temple is on the right towards the end
Address of Gay Rabbit temple
Copy this photo to ask for directions